An extinction burst is a child’s response to having reinforcement withdrawn that historically followed a maladaptive behavior. Because the maladaptive behavior up to this point has reliably worked for the child getting certain wants and needs met quickly, the child resists giving up this behavior and having to learn a new way to get wants/needs met. An extinction burst can take the form of maladaptive behaviors becoming more frequent, longer in duration, and/or more severe in intensity (e.g., child cries longer than usual to get his/her way; crying escalates to yelling & tantrums; etc.).

In this video, Robert explains how and why extinction bursts occur and how best to guide the child through the behavior.

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